Azair: I was 9 when I first told my mom, like, “Hey, I think I like girls,” like, and she wasn’t with it. Like she was so like, “You don’t know that. You’re too young. You don’t know what you like.”
Nia Clark: It taught me two things. Number one, adults are not to be trusted. And number two, my own mind is not to be trusted. You are not welcome here as you are.
Azair: If I’m a gay kid, why can’t you place me in a gay home? That’s beyond discrimination. That’s just pure hatred.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS IS SEASON THREE OF SOUNDS LIKE HATE, A PODCAST SERIES FROM THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER. I’M JAMILA PAKSIMA.
YVONNE LATTY: AND I’M YVONNE LATTY. THIS SEASON, WE ARE EXAMINING THE RIGHTS AND LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO TOO OFTEN HAVE DIFFICULTY BEING ACCEPTED FOR WHO THEY ARE. PEOPLE WHO STILL, DESPITE DECADES OF CIVIL RIGHTS BATTLES AND TRIUMPHS, ARE FORCED TO CONTINUE TO DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS PROMISED TO ALL AMERICANS. IN THIS SEASON, WE TRAVEL TO ARIZONA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA AND PENNSYLVANIA. WE WILL MEET FOLKS WHO SAY MODERN-DAY LAWS AND POLICIES CONTINUE TO HOLD THEM DOWN FROM LIVING A LIFE OF FULL POTENTIAL.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FOR SOME PEOPLE, DISCRIMINATION AND HATE IS EXPERIENCED IN OVERT ACTIONS. OTHER TIMES OPPRESSION IS SUBVERSIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE. THESE ARE THE STORIES WE’VE BEEN INVESTIGATING ABOUT INDIVIDUALS FIGHTING FOR EACH OTHER’S RIGHTS.
YVONNE LATTY: IN PART 2 OF FOSTERING HATE, WE LOOK AT THE LIVES AND RIGHTS OF LGBTQ FOSTER KIDS WHO SOME SAY EXPERIENCE HATE IN THE FORM OF PUBLIC POLICY, A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING, AND INEQUITY IN ACCESS TO SERVE THE BEST INTERESTS OF THESE DISENFRANCHISED CHILDREN.
Justice Roberts: We will hear argument this morning Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IN OUR LAST EPISODE, WE CLOSELY EXAMINED A LANDMARK FOSTER PARENTS RIGHTS CASE REVIEWED BY SUPREME COURT.
Ali Velshi: A unanimous ruling in favor of a Catholic foster care agency in a dispute against the city of Philadelphia.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IN JUNE OF 2021, THE HIGHEST COURT GRANTED CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO WORK WITH LGBTQ FOSTER CARE PARENTS.
Ali Velshi: This was a big day, the ongoing questions about religious freedom and LGBTQ rights.
YVONNE LATTY: AS WE RESEARCHED THIS CASE AND ATTACKS ON LGBTQ FOSTER PARENTS’ RIGHTS, WE ALSO BECAME AWARE OF THE VAST CHALLENGES AND DISCRIMINATION LGBTQ FOSTER CHILDREN EXPERIENCE.
Commercial narrator: Learn how you can become a foster or adoptive parent.
Foster kid: Family means support, love. We can all get along and never give up on each other.
Commercial narrator: Visit adoptPAkids-dot-org.
YVONNE LATTY: WE RETURN TO PHILADELPHIA WITH THE STORY OF A FORMER FOSTER CHILD.
Azair: My pronouns is always my name, my pronouns is Azair, and I’m me.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THAT’S AZAIR SALLARD. AZAIR IS A 24-YEAR-OLD PANSEXUAL GENDER-FLUID NONBINARY PERSON. AZAIR ENTERED THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM IN PHILADELPHIA AT THE AGE OF 4.
Azair: Sexually. Physically. Just getting abused. Like my mom would put beer in our sippy cups and our bottles, like it was regular.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR AND AZAIR’S SIBLINGS WERE LIVING IN AN ABUSIVE HOME WITH THEIR BIOLOGICAL MOTHER.
Azair: I remember my older brother getting taken first. I remember like a couple of months later, me and my little brother got taken on the same day.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: 4-YEAR-OLD AZAIR AND 2-MONTH-OLD YOUNGER BROTHER KAMAL WERE PLACED IN THE HOME OF THE SALLARDS ‑ TWO ADULTS WITH A LOT OF EXPERIENCE IN RAISING FOSTER CHILDREN.
Tinesha Sallard: The Sallards are a pretty interesting bunch, if I had to put it into words.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THAT’S TINESHA SALLARD. IN 2003, WHEN SHE WAS 25, TINESHA BECAME AZAIR’S FOSTER SISTER. TOGETHER WITH HER MOTHER, LINDA SALLARD-LUBY, WHO WAS 42 AT THE TIME, THEY RAISED THE CHILDREN. THE MOTHER- DAUGHTER TEAM ATTENDED FOSTER-PARENT TRAINING OFFERED BY THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA. LINDA SALLARD DECLINED OUR INVITATION TO AN INTERVIEW FOR HEALTH REASONS. HER DAUGHTER TINESHA IS SPEAKING ON THE SALLARDS’ BEHALF.
Tinesha Sallard: My mom came home, brought them with her and, you know, we’re introducing, I’m holding Kamal, and [bleep] is just sitting quiet.
Jamila Paksima: And [bleep] is who?
Tinesha Sallard: Azair, as you guys refer to him, her, as Azair; them as Azair. I still call her [bleep]. It’s just in my head.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: TINESHA, OR “T,” STILL REFERS TO AZAIR BY WHAT AZAIR AND OTHER TRANS PEOPLE REFER TO AS THEIR DEADNAME. “T” ALSO USES SHE/HER PRONOUNS TO REFER TO AZAIR, THOUGH AZAIR NO LONGER USES THIS NAME OR PRONOUNS. AZAIR HAS LET US KNOW, AZAIR DOES PREFER FOR TINESHA TO USE THEIR DEADNAME AND PRONOUNS SHE/HER. FOR OUR REPORTING, WE WILL BE USING AZAIR’S CHOSEN NAME AND BLEEPING ANY MENTIONS OF THE DEADNAME.
Tinesha Sallard: [bleep] was very parentified even at 4. She felt the need to tend to Kamal when he cried, she wanted to check to see if he was hungry. “Oh, I have to change his diaper.” So, there’s just, that let us know that it was definitely, you know, she was taking care of him even though he was only 2 months old.
Azair: At the time, I just knew that I couldn’t leave my brother.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BEFORE BEING PLACED IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM, AZAIR’S MOTHER ASKED THEN 4-YEAR-OLD AZAIR TO PROMISE TO ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF KAMAL.
Azair: I made a promise to my real mom that I was going to make sure my little brother was OK.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FOUR YEARS LATER WHEN AZAIR WAS 8, LINDA SALLARD GAVE AZAIR AN ULTIMATUM. FOSTERING IS MEANT TO BE TEMPORARY WITH AN AVERAGE FOSTER PLACEMENT LASTING ABOUT TWO YEARS. SHE NEVER INTENDED TO ADOPT THE KIDS SHE FOSTERED, BUT SHE ALSO DIDN’T WANT TO SPLIT UP THE SIBLINGS.
Azair: She sat me on the bed, she like “What do you want me to do? Now, I can keep ya’ll both, or I could send ya’ll back, and y’all might not be together.” So that’s where I feel like… I’m sorry.
Jamila Paksima: It’s OK. You were 8 years old, making a lifetime decision.
Azair: I’m sorry. I knew that I had to make sure he was OK. And that was always my main focus.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR AND KAMAL STAYED WITH THE SALLARDS AS FOSTER KIDS FOR MANY YEARS AND, AFTER ABOUT 4 YEARS, THEY WERE ADOPTED. BUT THE TRAJECTORIES OF THESE TWO SIBLINGS RAISED TOGETHER IN THE SAME HOME ENDED UP STARKLY DIFFERENT. KAMAL THRIVED AND AT 18 ENLISTED IN THE MILITARY.
Azair: He going into the Air Force, the full thing, like, I can’t be more proud.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR, DESPITE BEING RAISED BY THE SAME FAMILY WAS STRUGGLING AT HOME AND SCHOOL. AZAIR BEGAN TO FACE BULLYING DUE TO PERCEIVED SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
Azair: I got bullied for being gay before I even came out the closet. It went from people calling me all types of dykes, which I didn’t know what was at the time, and I was so confused, and people would just be like, “Oh, you like girls, you’re gay, you’re gay, you’re gay,” like I would have boys walk pasT and smack my butt or like people pushed me down. Like, I will get into fights because of it.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THEN AZAIR BEGAN TO HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT SEXUAL IDENTITY.
Azair: So, at first, I thought I was just gay, and I just like wearing boy clothes.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SINCE SCHOOL WASN’T A SAFE SPACE, AZAIR SHARED THE REALIZATION WITH THE SALLARDS.
Azair: I first told my mom, like “Hey, I think I like girls,” like, and she wasn’t with it, like, she was so, like, “You don’t know that, stop. Like, you’re too young, you don’t know what you like.” Yeah, my mom told me I was confused, every time I told her that.
Mike GrowMiller: There’s a whole bunch of trainings, but one was about LGBTQ foster youth coming to live with you.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AROUND 2010, MORE LGBTQ COUPLES LIKE LOU AND MICHAEL GROWMILLER OF PHILADELPHIA WERE BECOMING FOSTER PARENTS. THE TWO GAY DADS ATTENDED SEVERAL FOSTER PARENT TRAINING SESSIONS FOR THEIR THEN SIX MONTH OLD DAUGHTER.
Mike GrowMiller: And it was teaching these parents that, “what would you do if a child came into your care and was gay or lesbian or trans or, or while they’re with you and living with you, then they came out like, how would you react?”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: WHAT FOLLOWED WAS HOMOPHOBIA AND STARES.
Mike GrowMiller: And we had to sit there listening to people’s homophobia while we were in the training. And they, knowing that Lou and I were gay and we were in the corner, and I felt like everybody who had something to say would always look at us as a reaction. One of the most uncomfortable situations I was ever in because we heard some of the extremist views were like “If she was with me for a year, and she was a lesbian, I kick her out that day.”
Lou GrowMiller: “No one’s putting on my makeup. No one’s wearing a dress in my house. That’s not the way God wanted it to happen.” Yeah.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: TOO OFTEN ADEQUATE VETTING AND TRAINING AS A FOSTER PARENT IS LACKING.
Mike GrowMiller: We walked out of there, we’re like, “Holy crap. There is a lot of children in these… In situations where they’re-supposed-to-be-better situations, and it’s just as just as horrible.
Azair: I’m like, “I’m being bullied.” I got tired of it.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS IS OUR PRODUCER SAM RIDDELL, ASKING AZAIR ABOUT BULLYING.
Sam Riddell: Were there any adults in your life, whether it be at school or at home, who you went to to talk about the bullying?
Sam Riddell: Why not?
Azair: Because why? To hear “Don’t worry about it.” And then eventually I just started forget it, now I’m going to just walk around, and I’m going to terrorize the school.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR HAD VIOLENT OUTBURSTS. THE SALLARDS TURNED TO PROFESSIONALS FOR SUPPORT AS THE INCIDENTS INCREASED. UNABLE TO MANAGE THE SITUATION, AZAIR WAS PLACED IN A GROUP RESIDENTIAL FACILITY AND BACK INTO THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM, A CIRCUMSTANCE TOO COMMON FOR LGBTQ YOUTH.
Dr. Wilson: Foster care is supposed to be temporary and brief. It’s supposed to be about protecting a child but getting them back into a permanent home.
YVONNE LATTY: THAT’S DR. BIANCA D.M. WILSON, THE RABBI ZACKY SENIOR SCHOLAR OF PUBLIC POLICY AT THE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE.
Dr. Wilson: Unfortunately, ending up in group facilities is associated with a lower likelihood of ending up in a permanent home, which makes that kind of placement not ideal. And that is the kind of placement that LGBTQ youth are more likely to end up in.
YVONNE LATTY: HER RESEARCH EXAMINES THE ROLE OF POVERTY, SEXUAL HEALTH, AND SYSTEMS IMPACTING LGBTQ YOUTH AND QUEER WOMEN. THERE IS NO FEDERAL DATA AVAILABLE ON THE NUMBER OF LGBTQ FOSTER CHILDREN, BUT ACCORDING TO THE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE’S LOS ANGELES BASED STUDY AND SIMILAR STUDIES AROUND THE COUNTRY, 30% OF FOSTER CHILDREN ARE LGBTQ, A STRIKING DATA POINT, WHICH IS THREE TIMES HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF 11% OF THE GENERAL POPULATION WHO SELF-IDENTIFY AS LGBTQ YOUTH.
Dr. Wilson: When we say that there’s 20 to 30% of youth in foster care that are LGBTQ, this is far beyond the percentage that queer youth make up in our general population.
Yvonne Latty: And why are so many in the system?
Dr. Wilson: We do know that LGBTQ youth are more likely to end up in group homes or other types of residential facilities, they tend to get moved around more. So that, in addition to them reporting being treated more poorly, are all likely factors impacting whether or not they end up in permanent placement.
YVONNE LATTY: TODAY, THERE ARE MORE THAN 400,000 CHILDREN IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM. MOST STATES DO NOT TRACK CHILDREN BY THEIR GENDER. EXISTING RESEARCH FINDS THAT LGBTQ YOUTH OF COLOR ARE OVERREPRESENTED IN THE CHILD WELFARE AND JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEMS. THE DISPARITIES THEY EXPERIENCE ARE UNSETTLING. IN SOME STATES, LIKE CALIFORNIA, WHERE FOSTER CHILDREN ARE TRACKED… NEARLY A THIRD OF THE CHILDREN ARE LGBTQ OR QUESTIONING. THEY HAVE A HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE NUMBER OF FOSTER PLACEMENTS AND ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE LIVING IN GROUP HOMES, BE HOSPITALIZED FOR EMOTIONAL REASONS, OR BE HOMELESS AT SOME POINT IN THEIR LIVES.
Nia Clark: My name is Nia Clark, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I actually grew up in foster care.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NIA IS A 38-YEAR-OLD BLACK TRANS WOMAN.
Nia Clark: I went into the system around the age of 8.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHE, LIKE MANY OTHERS, EXPERIENCED A TUMULTUOUS PATH TO FIND HER FAMILY. PROFOUND POVERTY AND HARDSHIP LED HER INTO THE MARYLAND AND LATER MASSACHUSETTS CHILD WELFARE SYSTEMS.
Nia Clark: My birth mother and I were experiencing homelessness in Maryland, and I was facing a great deal of physical, emotional and mental abuse.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: TODAY NIA IS A LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER AND ADVOCATE. SHE WORKS WITH ORGANIZATIONS LIKE BIG BROTHER AND BIG SISTER OF AMERICA AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN FUND ON THEIR LGBTQ FOSTER AGENDAS. SHE ALSO TRAINS CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES IN BECOMING MORE LGBTQ-AFFIRMING BY TAPPING INTO HER OWN EXPERIENCE. WHEN SHE WAS ONLY 8, NIA WAS FORCED TO MAKE A PAINFUL CHOICE.
Nia Clark: The judge had asked me, “Do you want to go into foster care, do you want to stay with your mother?” and I elected to have a new life that would be hopefully free of abuse, and have some stability.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SHE WAS PLACED WITH A SINGLE FOSTER MOM.
Nia Clark: I remember the very first day and feeling so anxious, so nervous and wondering if I’d made the right decision.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AROUND THE AGE OF 5, NIA SAYS, SHE HAD AN AWARENESS OF BEING TRANSGENDER. AND AROUND THE AGE OF 8, BEGAN TO VOCALIZE THESE FEELINGS. TRANS CHILDREN TYPICALLY EXPERIENCE GENDER DYSPHORIA, OR A SENSE THAT THEIR GENDER DOESN’T MATCH THEIR ASSIGNED SEX AT BIRTH BY THE AGE OF 7, ACCORDING TO A 2020 STUDY PUBLISHED BY CEDAR-SINAI.
Nia Clark: I remember just saying to my foster mother, “I think I’m a girl, I feel like a girl, I think I’m a girl.” And this is 1991 where, like I said, the language didn’t really exist. And at first, she responded very positively, at least what I perceived to be positive.
Phil Donahue: You are doing this now because you don’t want to even get accultured as an adult male?
Guest (Angie): Exactly.
Nia Clark: She referenced Donahue.
YVONNE LATTY: DONAHUE WAS A POPULAR MAINSTREAM TALK SHOW HOSTED BY PHIL DONAHUE IN THE LATE 1980S AND EARLY 1990S, AND IT FEATURED A NUMBER OF TRANS WOMEN. IT WAS THE START OF AN EARLY CONVERSATION ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF BEING TRANS. IT ALSO PLAYED RIGHT INTO ALL SORTS OF SEXUALIZED STEREOTYPES.
Phil Donahue: So, you always walked with a… I’m not making fun, I want to understand. She, she, she, I say respectfully, is used to this.
Nia Clark: What I gathered from that conversation was I would be safe, that I would be affirmed that this was a soft place to land. Within maybe one or two weeks, I learned differently.
Guest (Elena’s Mom): I’m having a sex change. And I said, “Hey that’s your body, you’re still going to be part of my family.”
Phil Donahue: Oh, come on. You didn’t say that. After you fainted you said that.
YVONNE LATTY: THE SHOW’S STEREOTYPES ABOUT TRANS PEOPLE LED TO HARMFUL IDEOLOGIES AMONG SOME MEMBERS OF HIS VAST AUDIENCE.
Nia Clark: My foster mother had me placed in a mental institution, where I would spend six months until I was able to no longer express a voice of any sort of gender non-conforming behavior or feelings.
YVONNE LATTY: FOR DECADES, LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND QUESTIONING YOUTH LIKE NIA HAVE EXPERIENCED FAR MORE HARM THAN ACCEPTANCE. MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES PLAGUE FAR TOO MANY QUEER YOUTHS BOTH IN AND OUT OF THE SYSTEM. HERE AGAIN IS DR. BIANCA D.M. WILSON.
Dr. Wilson: In the U.S., we find that LGBT youth have higher rates of psychological distress, suicidality than non-LGBT youth. And that appears to be the case even for our youth in foster care. We also know that foster youth experience high levels of psychological distress compared to youth who have never been in foster care. You can imagine, then, that for LGBT youth in foster care, they’re really sitting at the intersection of two groups that already experience a lot of vulnerability to mental health distress, and we see that in the data.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NIA LEFT HER FIRST FOSTER CARE PLACEMENT WEARY OF FUTURE CARETAKERS AND WEARY OF HER OWN GENDER IDENTITY.
Nia Clark: It taught me two things. Number one, adults are not to be trusted. And number two, my own mind is not to be trusted. You are not welcome here as you are, you must conform.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: FROM THEN ON, NIA BOUNCED FROM HOME TO HOME, AS IS THE CASE WITH MANY FOSTER CARE KIDS. PARTICULARLY OLDER KIDS, ONES OF COLOR, AND LGBTQ YOUTH. IN 2019, A STUDY PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL PEDIATRICS SAYS: 30.4% OF THE YOUTH LIVING IN FOSTER CARE WERE IN UNSTABLE HOUSING. 25% OF THESE YOUTH SELF-IDENTIFIED AS LGBTQ. LIVING IN UNSTABLE FOSTER HOMES, THEY REPORTED HAVING HIGHER RATES OF SUBSTANCE USE, POORER PERFORMANCE AT SCHOOL, AND POORER MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS. NIA’S EXPERIENCE WAS ROUGH.
Nia Clark: It was a very nomadic lifestyle. And I didn’t really have luggage. So, just traveling around with trash bags.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IN FOSTER CARE, IT IS COMMON DURING THE PROCESS OF FINDING A PLACEMENT, FOR A CHILD TO MEET AND SPEND TIME WITH PROSPECTIVE FOSTER PARENTS. THE ARRANGEMENT IS FACILITATED BY A SOCIAL WORKER. AT THE AGE OF 14 DURING ONE SUCH ARRANGEMENT, NIA FOUND HERSELF AGAIN IN THE MIDST OF A NON-LGBTQ AFFIRMING ADULT.
Nia Clark: I was in a foster home with a devoutly religious woman who had assured me that while I was in her care that she was not going to try to force her religion on me.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AS OF 2019, SOME STATES IN THE U.S. HAD FREEDOM OF RELIGION WRITTEN INTO THEIR FOSTER CHILD BILL OF RIGHTS. THAT IS THE FREEDOM FOR FOSTER CHILDREN TO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THEIR FOSTER PARENTS’ CHOSEN RELIGION. THE MASSACHUSETTS BILL OF RIGHTS STATES THAT “EVERY CHILD SHALL BE TREATED WITH RESPECT BY DCF STAFF, FOSTER PARENTS AND PROVIDERS WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE, ETHNICITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, RELIGION AND/OR DISABILITY.” ONLY 27 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIGENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY
Nia Clark: Within maybe the first couple of weeks, she’d already taken out a Bible, sat me down at the kitchen table and kind of opened it up and made me go through Leviticus and Corinthians and Genesis and basically be told that I was going to Hell for being LGBT.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NIA WAS NOT PLACED WITH THIS PROSPECTIVE PARENT. SHE ENDED UP SPENDING MUCH OF HER LIFE IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM.
Nia Clark: You just kind of languish on the vine. I was in over 15 placements over the course of 14 years. The vast majority of those were residential treatment facilities and group homes.
Jamila Paksima: So, what is the reason why LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care?
Nia Clark: That’s a complex question, because for every foster youth, there are different reasons. For me, it was a confluence of things. So, already being Black, already being poor, already having been marginalized, and then that being compounded by being a gender minority, being trans and trying to find that safety in the adults who are tasked with my care and to be categorically rejected. It creates a sort of social anxiety. We may already assume that we’re not welcome. I describe it kind of as a television show and there’s a main cast and me as a foster kid, I always felt like I was a guest on that show.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IN 1998, NIA FOUND A FOSTER MOM, A SOCIAL WORKER SHE MET WHILE WORKING AS A HIV/AIDS PEER EDUCATOR. NIA WAS 15, STILL DESPERATE TO BE WANTED IN A FAMILY.
Nia Clark: She was very down-to-earth. This woman had heard all of these harrowing stories, and she decided she wanted to be my foster mom. And I was extremely excited about this because this, to me, sounded like I will finally have that forever home.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NIA DECIDED TO COME OUT TO THIS FOSTER MOM AS TRANS.
Nia Clark: I decided to be honest and forthcoming. And I told her, “I feel like a girl. I believe I am a girl. I am a girl.” And she said, “All right, I accept you for who you are, thank you for telling me. Here’s something I want you to do.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: HER FOSTER MOTHER MADE A REQUEST THAT NIA VIEWED AS DESTRUCTIVE, AND MANY EXPERTS NOW AGREE.
Nia Clark: “I don’t feel comfortable with you dressing outside of the house. I would rather you dress only in the house. You know, the neighbors may talk. I don’t want you to be bullied. It just makes me uncomfortable. I would rather you dress however you want to, but in the house.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: WE REACHED OUT TO NIA’S FORMER FOSTER MOTHER, WHO DOES NOT WISH TO BE NAMED. SHE CONFIRMED SHE DID ASK NIA NOT TO PRESENT AS A YOUNG WOMAN OUTSIDE OF THE HOME. AND SAYS SHE DID THIS BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE SAFER OR HELP NIA AVOID INSTANCES OF BULLYING OR HARASSMENT. SHE ALSO ADMITTED TO BEING UNDEREDUCATED REGARDING TRANSGENDER IDENTITIES DURING THE TIME IN WHICH SHE FOSTERED NIA. NIA, WHOSE LIFE WORK IS NOW TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ON HOW TO BETTER SERVE LGBTQ YOUTH, SAYS HER FOSTER MOTHERS REQUEST WAS HARMFUL.
Nia Clark: What this taught me was that in order to have that safety, permanency and well-being, that I had to compartmentalize my identity, that my identity had to be something that was so clandestine, so secret.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: REJECTION AND LONGING FOR ACCEPTANCE WERE ALSO COMMON EMOTIONS FOR NIA AND AZAIR. GROWING UP, AZAIR OFTEN FELT UNWANTED.
Azair: I felt like I was misunderstood.
Tinesha Sallard: She was 4 years old, when they first came. Kamal began to fit in immediately because he was a baby. So, we were all he knew. [Bleep], on the other hand, it took some time. She was very loud, very energetic, very oppositional.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR’S EMOTIONAL OUTBURSTS SEEM TO STEM FROM AZAIR’S RELATIONSHIP WITH AZAIR’S BIOLOGICAL MOTHER.
Tinesha Sallard: Prior to them being adopted, they would still get visits with their mom. Sometimes she would show up, sometimes she wouldn’t you know, of course, [Bleep] would be upset. So, she would go upstairs and destroy her room. And as much as we didn’t want her to destroy her room, we knew she had to get that out.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THESE OCCASIONAL VISITS BY AZAIR’S MOTHER WERE TRIGGERING AND TRAUMATIC. AND AZAIR WASN’T ABLE TO VERBALIZE THE FEELINGS OF BETRAYAL AND PAIN CAUSED BY AZAIR’S MOTHER’S BROKEN PROMISES.
Azair: All I played in my head everyday was like, promise me you will make sure your brother all right. And I will come back and get ya’ll. So, I held onto that every day. Mentally it [expletive] me up, like, it made me reject the love that I was getting. I didn’t see it as love, like I seen it as they were trying to take my mom place and I didn’t want that. Like, “Y’all don’t really love me, y’all can’t, you not my family.” And then it was a thing of me being gay, and that wasn’t accepted. So, yeah, you don’t love me. It made me push away from people. It made me more closed-in like I didn’t want to be around nobody. I didn’t want to socialize. I didn’t understand why I did half of the stuff that I did.
Jamila Paksima: And certain things would just what, trigger you to have a break of some sort?
Azair: Like somebody told me my dad didn’t love me before and I, like, completely snapped out. I lost it.
Dr. Wilson: We do know that LGBTQ youth in our study of youth in schools, those that were in foster homes were more likely to have, kind of, some issues with their academics, lower grades compared to those who were not in foster care.
YVONNE LATTY: DR. WILSON SAYS NOT HAVING A PERMANENT HOME, A LOVING AFFIRMING FAMILY, A PARENT TO MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND CELEBRATE ACADEMIC MILESTONES HURTS THESE CHILDREN. NIA EXPERIENCED THIS FIRSTHAND.
Nia Clark: When you’re at school, you’re already believing that someone is going to make a comment, someone is going to physically assault you. So, you’re always on alert. You’re always hypervigilant. But it also can make a young person very angry. When often it maybe I’m rejected by everyone else. I’m likely going to be rejected by you. So let me throw my anger out your way, which causes this conflict at home and, all of a sudden, a foster parent or adoptive parent doesn’t know what to do.
Jamila Paksima: In your trainings, this happened at different times because your mother was probably trained before you, did they talk to you about sexual identity and foster children?
Tinesha Sallard: Not so much, it was more so a training in not imposing our views onto foster children. So, whatever it is that they presented, whether it was something to do with their gender or religion or what have you, you know, accepting where they were and that was it.
Jamila Paksima: Sometimes a family’s family rules, morals, boundaries are based on beliefs and religious beliefs. So how do you navigate that?
Tinesha Sallard: You navigate it to the best of your ability, like, we would take the children with us when we would go to church. You know, of course, not wanting to get up on a Sunday morning and get dressed. You had that kind of pushback. But, you know, once we would get there, it wouldn’t be a issue.
Azair: Well, I used to walk into church all the time, and every time I walked in, they were talking about how being gay and bi was a sin.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR SAYS THERE WERE RELIGIOUS IDEAS IMPOSED FROM THE CHURCH THAT THE SALLARDS ATTENDED WEEKLY.
Azair: My little brother asked me like, “You know, being gay and bi is a sin?” I said, “It doesn’t say that in the Bible. Show me where does it say that being gay and bi is a sin? He said that “God said that he made woman for man and man for woman.” My little brother had looked at me in my eyes so serious and asked me, “So you think that’s cute?” And I was just like, in so much disbelief, like that’s my best friend, my heart. And he asked me that. And it hurt.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR FELT BETRAYED BY KAMAL AND THE SALLARDS.
Azair: It played a part of me thinking that you don’t really love me because you can’t accept this, you don’t understand this. And if you love me, you would understand it.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: IT WAS ALSO DURING THIS TIME THAT AZAIR WOULD GET INTO PHYSICAL ALTERCATIONS AT SCHOOL.
Tinesha Sallard: She would get suspended from school for fighting.
Azair: Eventually, I got in a fight with the head of the football team, because after you beat the head of the football team, it’s no talking.
Tinesha Sallard: She didn’t spend as much time home because from 9 to about 16, she was in and out of residentials.
YVONNE LATTY: IN PHILADELPHIA AND NEIGHBORING COUNTIES, AS IN MOST COMMUNITIES, THERE ARE RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITIES FOR CHILDREN WITH BEHAVIORAL AND MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES. THEY ARE COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS PLACEMENTS OR RESIDENTIALS. CHILDREN BOTH IN AND OUT OF FOSTER CARE CAN LIVE IN THESE FACILITIES. IT IS WHERE PERCEIVED “PROBLEM OR TROUBLED CHILDREN” LIKE AZAIR END UP.
Tinesha Sallard: You know, those key words like “I’m going to kill myself” or saying she’s going to hurt somebody else. Those types of words being used. So, she had some hospitalizations that would lead to residential stays. And she could stay there anywhere from two weeks to four months to six months.
Azair: I will probably go pick up a pair of scissors and go cut my arms so I could go into the hospital or something like, I would consider it my safe haven. We had game rooms, eat what I want, like we ordered out, like it’s a kid’s dream, like, forget school. I can’t sit for eight hours in the classroom. But I could do this one-hour worksheet before we go to the game room.
YVONNE LATTY: DR WILSON SAYS POORLY TRAINED STAFF AT THESE FACILITIES HAS A DETRIMENTAL AFFECT ON LGBTQ FOSTER KIDS.
Dr. Wilson: You know, based on our work, clearly, training is a component, right? Staff talk about other staff not being well-trained. But training is not the only issue. They also talked about staff who simply have religious beliefs that being gay, being trans is not OK, that they don’t think it’s a thing, that they have biases against the youth. They have biases against the prospective parents. And staff in that study talked about, you know, one shot trainings can’t be everything. There has to be an ongoing structural support for serving LGBTQ youth.
YVONNE LATTY: THE FACILITIES ARE LIKE DORMS THERE COULD BE DOZENS OR A HUNDRED YOUTH IN A FACILITY. YOU CAN HAVE TWO, THREE OR FOUR KIDS IN A ROOM. STAFF IS NOT THE SAME AS HAVING A PARENT. THE STAFF COMES AND GOES. IT’S SHIFT WORK, WHICH MEANS THERE IS NO GUARANTEE HOW WELL-TRAINED ANY GIVEN STAFF MEMBER MIGHT BE.
Azair: The staff in these placements were worse than the kids. They were abusive. It was a time where I got put in some restraint, and my arms was put behind my back. But when the staff did it, he, like, pulled me up, pushed me and then pulled me down. And I had a pin clipped on my shirt and like, I don’t know if you can see it, but I got stitches right there. They had to give me stitches, my chin bust open, so the whole white shirt was red. Like, you lucky if you make it out there alive, some people don’t, like I had a friend that died at one of them, one that I had just got discharged from. I was at Wordsworth. And did you guys hear about the kid getting killed at Wordsworth?
News anchor: A student at the Wordsworth Academy in Wynnefield Heights is dead.
Azair: His name was David, they put him in a restraint and he was telling them that they couldn’t breathe. He kept telling them they couldn’t breathe and they wasn’t listening.
News anchor: He passed away after a struggle with faculty around 9 o’clock last night.
YVONNE LATTY: IN 2016, DAVID HESS, A 17-YEAR-OLD BOY, DIED IN A STRUGGLE WITH STAFFERS AT WORDSWORTH ACADEMY. HE WAS PINNED TO THE GROUND IN A HEADLOCK BEFORE HE LOST CONSCIOUSNESS.
Azair: They was on the fourth floor. I was on the third floor. Both of the brothers was upstairs. His brother came home a week after he died. I came home like a month before that.
YVONNE LATTY: WORDSWORTH SETTLED THE CASE PRIVATELY FOR AN UNKNOWN AMOUNT, AND THE INSTITUTION FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2017. HESS’ DEATH PROMPTED THE STATE TO ORDER THE CLOSURE OF WORDSWORTH, THE CITY’S ONLY RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITY FOR TROUBLED YOUNG PEOPLE. AZAIR NEVER FILED A FORMAL COMPLAINT ABOUT THE INCIDENT. IN 2018, THE WORDSWORTH ACADEMY WAS ACQUIRED BY PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, WHICH IS PHILADELPHIA’S COMMUNITY-BASED AGENCY DESIGNED TO OVERLOOK THE CITY’S CHILD WELFARE SERVICES. THE SAME YEAR, THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA WAS ROCKED AGAIN BY ANOTHER REVELATION IN THE CHILD WELFARE ARENA.
News anchor: A dispute involving Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services and the city’s foster care system.
News anchor: The dispute erupted a couple years ago due to Catholic Social Services policy not to place children with same sex couples.
YVONNE LATTY: THE CASE WAS HEARD IN BOTH THE DISTRICT AND 3RD CIRCUIT COURTS, AND CSS WAS DENIED IN BOTH INSTANCES.
Justice Roberts: We will hear arguments this morning in case number 19-123.
YVONNE LATTY: HOWEVER, CSS APPEALED AGAIN, THIS TIME TO THE SUPREME COURT. AND THE SUPREME COURT AGREED TO HEAR THE CASE.
News anchor: A unanimous ruling in favor of a Catholic foster care agency in a dispute against the city of Philadelphia.
Jamila Paksima: So, let’s talk about this Supreme Court ruling. What do you understand happened, and what’s your feeling on it?
Azair: Understand that they ruled in Catholic Services’ favor. And I’m not really disappointed in that, honestly.
YVONNE LATTY: ON JUNE 17, 2021, IN A STUNNING UNANIMOUS VOTE, THE SUPREME COURT RULED ON FULTON V. PHILADELPHIA IN FAVOR OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES, CLAIMING THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA WAS IN BREACH OF CONTRACT.
Nia Clark: Due to a very small technicality, but this isn’t the end of it.
YVONNE LATTY: THE RULING AVOIDED TACKLING THE MAIN TARGET, THE QUESTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.
Nia Clark: So, what I see happening is other civil rights organizations, legal organizations try to bring this up to the Supreme Court. And I am concerned that given the conservative majority that they may actually not rule in the favor of protecting our most vulnerable, our most marginalized communities, specifically LGBTQ individuals. And subsequently LGBTQ youth in systems of care.
YVONNE LATTY: HOW DIFFERENT WOULD LIFE POSSIBLY BE FOR FOSTER CHILDREN LIKE AZAIR OR NIA IF THEY HAD THE OPTION OF AFFIRMING FAMILIES?
Jamila Paksima: All right, what’s the name of your poem?
Azair: It’s called Constant War.
I can’t get these thoughts out my head. I try to tell them, but I fear they don’t quite understand and these feelings I can’t shake.
Things in my head screaming and yelling, trying to find a way to escape, awaiting my slip up. Just one mistake. And my very existence could be at stake.
I’m like a ticking time bomb trying to get these thoughts up outta me, I’m at a constant war with myself, trying to figure it out, but it’s not so easy.
Trying to figure out what I’m still fighting for. My pain is just not something that I quite endure.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AFTER A SERIES OF 21 HOSPITALIZATIONS AND RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENTS, AZAIR RAN AWAY FROM THE SALLARDS TO LIVE WITH AZAIR’S BIOLOGICAL FATHER. AZAIR’S BIOLOGICAL FATHER WAS NOT VIEWED AS A FIT PARENT BY THE CITY. AND ONCE AGAIN, AZAIR WAS GIVEN A CHOICE TO STAY WITH THE SALLARDS OR RE-ENTER THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM. AZAIR CHOSE TO RE-ENTER THE SYSTEM AND WAS PLACED IN A FOSTER CARE GROUP HOME AT THE AGE OF 16 AND ASSIGNED A DIFFERENT SOCIAL WORKER WHO WOULD ONLY USE AZAIR’S DEAD NAME.
Azair: Despite what I wanted her to call me, she called me my legal name. See looking at it now, I see that it was discrimination because despite what you had to put on paperwork, you could have called me what I wanted you to call me.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: BEING IN THE SYSTEM, JUST WASN’T SERVING AZAIR.
Azair: I, like, discharged myself when I turned 18.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AT THE TIME, AZAIR HAD FINALLY BEGUN TO ACCEPT AND OPENLY ASSERT AZAIR’S GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
Azair: My best friend is a trans man, and he’s so much like me, after being his friend for like about a year, I was like, “Bro, like, I think I’m trans, like, no matter how much I tried to be a girl, it just don’t feel right to me. My best friend encouraged me, “If that’s what you want to, bro, then I’m all for it. I’m here with you, like, I’ll help you through it. I’ll teach you what you need to know.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR, MUCH LIKE NIA, FOUND SOLACE AFTER AGING OUT OF THE SYSTEM WITH A NEWLY FOUND QUEER-AFFIRMING CHOSEN FAMILY.
Nia Clark: There’s a place called Spontaneous Celebrations in Jamaica Plain. It’s a community center, and it’s very queer-friendly. And I ended up having to go there. They were giving a performance slam, a poetry slam that night. And I signed up for the poetry slam. And I ended up getting on the mic and I said, “My name is Nia. I’m 18 years old, and I am homeless. And I have nowhere else to live. I need a place to stay.” I begged a crowd of strangers for a place to stay. And thank goodness for the chosen family that I amassed just with that request that I walked out of there with a place to stay.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE SALLARDS RELOCATED TO GEORGIA. AFTER SOME TIME AND DISTANCE, WHEN AZAIR WAS ABOUT 18 YEARS OLD, AZAIR RECONNECTED WITH LINDA AND TINESHA. AZAIR WAS WORKING IN A COFFEE SHOP WHICH EMPLOYS FOSTER YOUTH AND FORMER FOSTER YOUTH IN PHILADELPHIA.
Azair: I actually created a drink, and it was called the Drizzy Shot. Now, back then, I was going by Andre. So the Drizzy Shot was named after me.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE SALLARDS WERE COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF THE NAME CHANGE.
Tinesha Sallard: When we got there, she came outside, and she directed this to my mom. She said, “Mom, don’t call me [bleep] in here because they don’t call me [bleep] here. They don’t know that’s my name.” And my mom was like, “What? What are you talking about?”
Azair: Oh, my mom and my sister called me [bleep], and nobody in the job knew my real name except for my bosses.
Tinesha Sallard: So, when we went in. [bleep] introduced us to the owner of the store and then the other peers, the other employees there, and my mom said something and called her [bleep], and they all looked like, “Oh, my God, that’s your name?” And I think [bleep] thought my mom would do that. Because she was like, “Oh, my God, you…” I knew she was going to do that, and she started laughing and everybody else started laughing. I chuckled, but I’m like thinking to myself, like, were you serious and not wanting her to call you, and are you laughing just because you want to laugh it off and move on? That type of thing. But she never brought it up again. She just let it go.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: SINCE THEN, AZAIR HAS MADE BOTH THE NAMES ANDRE AND LATER AZAIR PUBLIC ON FACEBOOK FOR TINESHA AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS TO SEE.
Azair: It’s just something that I’ve learned to ignore.
Jamila Paksima: Does it hurt you to hear those other names?
Azair: It don’t, depending on who it is. Like, if it’s my mom, my mom, 65. You see what I’m saying, so she’s stuck in her ways. That’s not changing. And that’s my mom. So, the thing that’s constantly on my mind is making my mom happy, making my mom pleased, like, making my mom proud of me. So, it’s hard.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: TINESHA SAYS HER MOTHER, LINDA, HAS A DIFFICULT TIME ACCEPTING ANY LGBTQ IDENTITIES.
Tinesha Sallard: I think my mom, she has a hard time with it. She has a hard time with it. “My daughter has a girlfriend,” and she has a huge heart. She has the hardest time with that. “I’m completely fine with it. I could care less if she chooses to be trans. If she chooses to you know be, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever she, whatever makes her happy. I really don’t care what she is.”
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AND TINESHA SAYS AZAIR HAS NEVER COME OUT TO HER AS TRANS.
Tinesha Sallard: She’s never introduced me to Azair, she’s never said to me, this is who I am. It’s like I found out when I looked at her Facebook page that she just changed her name and that was it.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR SAYS “T” IS THE PERSON WHO KNOWS AZAIR BEST. TODAY SHE IS A SOCIAL WORKER.
Jamila Paksima: It sounds like you have a different relationship with your sister and your sister works in counseling and therapy. Why haven’t you been able to have that conversation with your sister?
Azair: Well, being as though T is my closest person, I think that I was always scared of it being a conversation she wasn’t willing to have with me. Being scared of rejection from her, like. Because she is my role model, she is my biggest support.
Tinesha Sallard: [Bleep] struggles with acceptance, period. Not just with gender, just in general.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE WORDS AZAIR NEVER HEARD AT HOME BUT SEEMS TO STILL LONG TO HEAR ARE “IT’S OK TO BE QUEER, IT’S OK TO BE NONBINARY, OR A SIMPLE IT’S OK TO BE YOU.”
Azair: I’ve never heard that in my life.
Jamila Paksima: So, what do you wish you knew when you were a child about your gender and sexual identity that you know now?
Azair: I wish that I could’ve just been accepting of it since day one, that I figured it out. Like I feel like I shouldn’t have had to hide it from the world, like. Of the fear of being bullied for it in school, or the fear of being told to shut up because I don’t know what I like. I feel like I should have been able to come out when I felt like I was.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: AZAIR, LIKE SO MANY FOSTER KIDS, NEVER HAD THE OPTION OF AN AFFIRMING LGBT OR QUEER AFFIRMING FAMILY. WHICH AZAIR BELIEVES WOULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE.
Azair: Well, in all reality, that child might already be gay, so why not? At least that parent will easily better help them understand? Or maybe later on down the line, when they turn 15, and they say that, “Hey, I’m gay,” they don’t want nobody to tell them to shut up because they don’t know what they talking about. Instead, they want somebody to accept them with open arms. Why don’t you place kids in gay homes? Why? If I’m a gay kid, why can’t you place me in a gay home? That’s beyond discrimination. That’s just pure hatred.
Chase Strangio: What we are seeing over the course of the last five years are escalations and attacks from state lawmakers on LGBTQ people, particularly on trans youth.
Kai Shappley: It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist.
YVONNE LATTY: THE ATTACKS ON LGBTQ YOUTH RIGHTS ARE AT RECORD NUMBERS. ELEVEN STATES ALLOW WELFARE AGENICES TO REFUSE PLACEMENT AND PROVIDE ANY SERVICES TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES INCLUDING SAME-SEX COUPLES AND LGBTQ PEOPLE IF IT’S IN CONFLICT WITH THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. AND THE TRANS YOUTH COMMUNITY IS UNDER ATTACK. AS OF THE FALL OF 2021, NATIONWIDE, OVER 100 STATE BILLS BAN SPORTS EXEMPTIONS AND HEALTH CARE RIGHTS FOR TRANS YOUTH.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: NIA HAS DEDICATED HER LIFE TO EDUCATING AGENCIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO AFFIRM AND TRANSFORM THEIR TRAINING OF FOSTER PARENTS.
Jamila Paksima: So, what does an affirming foster care agency look like?
Nia Clark: It’s an agency that, you know, makes sure that when they’re meeting with a young person for the first time, that they’re actually asking questions around sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It’s being able to ask during even the screening process, how would you respond if your young person actually came out while living with you? Are they you know, are they making sure that the parents that they are recruiting are not just cisgender heterosexual, you know, being intentional about their recruitment efforts with LGBT parents, so they already know what it’s like, to have been marginalized or to have been treated differently. There’s empathy there that they have that parallel there that they can have with a young person. They know what it’s like already to cultivate chosen family. What most aggravates me is that we’re still having a conversation just around acceptance. You accept them because they’re already in the system. The conversation now needs to be how do our practices affirm these young people? How do these practices and policies make sure that these young people have the most healthy, you know, experiences in foster care so they can actually be productive members of society so they can actually have a foreseeable future? That’s most upsetting to me is that we’re still having this conversation around basic acceptance.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: ONE OF THE LAST TIMES WE CAUGHT UP WITH AZAIR, AZAIR HAD UNEXPECTEDLY DEVELOPED A NEWFOUND INTEREST IN ATTENDING CHURCH. THE CHURCH IS CALLED NEW HOPE OUTREACH CENTER. AZAIR HAS BEEN GOING THERE FOR ABOUT A YEAR, AND ON THIS PARTICULAR DAY, AZAIR WAS HEADED OUT WITH ONE OF THE PASTORS OF THE CHURCH. THIS IS OUR PRODUCER, SAM RIDDELL, ASKING QUESTIONS.
Sam Riddell: So ,does this new church, there’s no discrimination, is there open affirmation? Is there “we love gay folks. We love lesbian folks. We love trans folks.” Or is it just, “You can come in the door.”
Azair: We love everybody, and everybody is everybody, you, feel it. Like you feel it. Like I’ve been with them we’re going out. We’re trying to get the people that are selling drugs on the corner to come into church like we love you. Jesus love you.
Sam Riddell: Do we love you despite your being gay, or do we love you because you’re gay?
Azair: Does it matter?
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THE PASTOR, ANGELIQUE BOULWARE, WAS CLEAR ABOUT HER POSITION – ALL PEOPLE ARE WELCOME.
Angelique Boulware: Every single person, everybody, no matter what your struggle is with your addiction is, your background. Nobody cares about that. They want to love on you. We want you to be OK with you, because if you’re not OK with you, how can you come to God? How can you help somebody else? And we’re all here to help somebody else in this life in some way, shape or form.
YVONNE LATTY: IT IS NOT CLEAR IF CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES WILL BE BACK IN BUSINESS OR IF THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE WILL REWRITE ITS FOSTER-PARENT POLICY. ON THE NEXT EPISODE OF SOUNDS LIKE HATE, PART ONE OF THE UNWELCOME. ARMED MILITIA GROUPS ON THE ARIZONA BORDER STALK MIGRANTS WHO WALK THE HOT DESERT SEEKING REFUGE. THEY DESTROY WATER STATIONS MANAGED BY HUMANITARIANS.
Michael Meyer: Our own government, our Arizona Republicans and Democrats, are running cartel water stations behind the checkpoint to help anyone who wants to fill up their black jugs and make it around this checkpoint with the bag full of fentanyl, with the unaccompanied child, with the female sex traffic victim, with the cheap labor, with whatever it is.
Sheriff Nanos: Show me something that says this is a crime. Then we have a crime, we can work and investigate.
Joel Smith: But what scares me is that they use the language of violence. They have the images of violence.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THESE ARE COMPLICATED STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE WHO FIGHT FOR THEIR TRUTH. THOSE WHO ARE DEMANDING AFFIRMING POLICIES WHICH WILL NOT ROB CHILDREN OF THEIR POWER, NOR STRIP ANY AMERICAN OF HAVING EQUAL ACCESS, INFLUENCE, PROTECTIONS, AND VOTING RIGHTS.
YVONNE LATTY: IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED A HATE INCIDENT OR CRIME, PLEASE CONTACT THE APPROPRIATE LOCAL AUTHORITIES OR ELECTED OFFICIALS. YOU CAN ALSO DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENED AT SPLCENTER.ORG.
JAMILA PAKSIMA: THIS IS SOUNDS LIKE HATE, AN INDEPENDENT AUDIO DOCUMENTARY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER.
PRODUCED BY UNTIL 20 PRODUCTIONS. I’M JAMILA PAKSIMA.
YVONNE LATTY: AND I’M YVONNE LATTY. REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO FIND OUT WHEN NEW EPISODES ARE RELEASED. PLEASE RATE AND REVIEW. IT REALLY HELPS. AND THANKS FOR LISTENING.